Tennessee County to Inmates: Sterilize Yourself, Get 30 Days Off Your Sentence

Politics News White County, Tennessee
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Tennessee County to Inmates: Sterilize Yourself, Get 30 Days Off Your Sentence

Forget good behavior or community service, in White County, Tennessee the quickest way to get your sentence reduce is to become sterile real quick, per an ABC15 report. For the small price of a free vasectomy, male inmates can get a whole 30 days removed from their sentence. Not to be left out, women can also receive time off if they receive a Nexplanon implant in their arm which will prevent pregnancies for up to four years. Since the program was instituted, county officials claim 32 women have gotten the Nexplananon implant and 38 men are in line to get a vasectomy procedure performed.

This controversial program was signed into being on May 15, 2017 by General Sessions Judge Sam Benningfield. Benningfield’s reasoning is that drug offenders keep ending up in jail and failing to pay for child support. If they didn’t have kids, they couldn’t hurt anybody.

I hope to encourage them to take personal responsibility and give them a chance, when they do get out, to not to be burdened with children. This gives them a chance to get on their feet and make something of themselves… I understand it won’t be entirely successful but if you reach two or three people, maybe that’s two or three kids not being born under the influence of drugs. I see it as a win, win.

By contrast, District Attorney Bryant Dunaway is not at all on board with the program. He sees the potential to have several lives ruined by a rash decision made during an early stint in prison.

It’s concerning to me, my office doesn’t support this order. It’s comprehensible that an 18-year-old gets this done, it can’t get reversed and then that impacts the rest of their life.

On Wednesday, the ACLU released a statement on the matter expressing similar concerns:

Offering a so-called ‘choice’ between jail time and coerced contraception or sterilization is unconstitutional. Such a choice violates the fundamental constitutional right to reproductive autonomy and bodily integrity by interfering with the intimate decision of whether and when to have a child, imposing an intrusive medical procedure on individuals who are not in a position to reject it. Judges play an important role in our community – overseeing individuals’ childbearing capacity should not be part of that role.

It’s pretty difficult to see how any of this would be justifiable—or even indeed legal.